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Essential kit every kitchen needs, according to top chefs

From simple utensils to top-of-the-range gadgets, find out what four of the UK’s best chefs use the most in their home kitchens

chefs' musthave kitchen kit
Brook Lark / Unsplash

Ever wondered what professional cooks can’t live without in their home kitchens? We asked four of the UK’s finest chefs to tell us about their go-to utensils and accessories for everyday cooking.

For more kitchen accessories and appliance recommendations, check out our best new kitchen buys.

Luke French, Chef-owner of Sheffield restaurant Jöro

luke french, chef owner of joro
John Sheppard

My most-used utensil is my long cooking tweezers. They are basically fancy tongs but so much easier to use than the big, clumsy standard ones. I use them to grab, flip, turn, stir, whisk, eat... you name it, just like extra-long chopsticks! Can you tell I love them?

I hate waste, especially plastic, so we have amassed quite a large collection of plastic containers. I always try to reuse them in one way or another, whether it’s in the kitchen or greenhouse. They’re very handy and keep everything in order.

The most expensive thing in my kitchen? My knives. They’re all hand forged by a local maker called Simon Maillet (simonmaillet.com), a proper cool French dude who collaborates with me on making Japanese-style kitchen knives and utensils. I use them for everything from boning fish to vegetable prep. The quality is so high that, if you take good care of them, they will last you a lifetime.

I couldn’t live without my barbecues. I’ve always been a firebug and I love the flavour from cooking over an open fire. You just can’t beat it. I have five different ones, but have big love for my Kamado Joe (kamadojoe.co.uk). At Jöro, pretty much all of the meat and fish, and a lot of our vegetables, are cooked on or finished over fire, and all of our wood and charcoal is sustainably sourced from single-species British woodlands. jororestaurant.co.uk

Marwa Alkhalaf, Co-owner of fine dining Iranian restaurant, Nutshell

marwa alkhalaf, coowner of fine dining iranian restaurant, nutshell

My must-have utensils are rubber spatulas of all shapes and sizes. They don’t scratch and ensure that every last bit is scraped up. When you are working with precise recipes, especially with pastries, every gram is accounted for and a spatula helps me not to waste anything and is perfect for folding whipped egg whites or flour into the batter. When cooking sauces and stews, mixing with a spatula ensures that I get everything off the bottom of the pan so it won’t burn.

I have a big collection of jars, baskets and containers. I don’t like to keep branded packaging so these come in handy when I need to store or decant my groceries. I find small glass jars, such as jam jars, particularly useful when it comes to organising my spice and dried herb cabinet.

I love slightly deep serving plates; you can use them for stews, rice, pasta, saucy roasts, any kind of desserts – pretty much anything. And I can’t resist any crockery with traditional patterns or calligraphy, especially if it’s handmade.

If you are only going to get one piece of equipment, make it a multifunctional food processor. The new models even come with whisks and plastic plaids so you can use it for chopping, mixing, slicing, whipping and kneading. Or on a smaller scale, a knife sharpener, as good knives require maintenance and sharpening your knife before using it will make your life a lot easier in the kitchen. nutshelllondon.com

James Cochran, head chef of 12:51 and winner of BBC Two’s Great British Menu 2018

chef james cochran

My must-have kitchen kit this year has to be my Braun ‘J300 Juicer’ (braunhousehold.com). I’ve been making amazing juices every morning to make sure I’m full of energy for the day. I like to use celery, mint, spinach, turmeric, apple and ginger. In the summer, I also made a lot of watermelon mojitos, which are also very good for the mood, I have to say.

The most indulgent piece of kit I own is a Thermomix – though the return on investment is very good! I use it for absolutely everything I can, it’s like having a sous chef in my kitchen at home. Mayonnaises and purées, those tricky cheffy things, are magicked up in minutes (thermomix.com).

For plates and dishes, I use Grayshott Pottery in Surrey (grayshottpottery.com). They will design any plate you desire. I’ve been using them for years and love the fresh and modern feel the pieces give our food.

Always invest in decent knives. These are the tools with which you can hone your skills of cutting and chopping. A paring knife is good to start with as it covers everything from veg prep to delicate work, and does a decent job on meat, too. Clement Knives are my pick. It transforms metal and plastic waste into knives and the pure craftsmanship is like no other (clementknives.com). 1251.co.uk

Erchen Chang, head chef and co-founder of cult restaurant group Bao

erchen chang

My most used kitchen tools are my metal bowl and colander/strainer set, as they make washing rice so pleasurable. The metal bowl itself has so many uses, from dressing salad to making cake mix. Another piece of kit that’s in frequent use is my rice cooker by Taiwanese brand Tatung (tatung.com) – its double boil system is like a bain-marie. I use it on an almost daily basis, steaming and reheating bao, cooking rice or making broths.

I usually pick up crockery wherever I go when I travel for research, so I’ve ended up with an eclectic collection. However, my biggest weakness is probably Taiwanese tea ceremony teapots and cups. I love a good oolong tea.

My favourite thing to cook with is my ‘Hagama’ cast-iron pot with a wooden lid. I use it to make stews and serve from at the table. It’s traditional cookware that’s usually used for making rice – it results in a fluffy, plump texture and a crispy bottom. However, I love using it to make stew as it helps give depth and warmth to the dish.

What’s worth investing in? A water filter for sure! Filtered water makes a big difference in the texture and taste of soup, rice and, most importantly, tea. I also can’t live without my Gaggenau oven (gaggenau.com) and Alpes-Inox hobs (alpesinox.com). baolondon.com

This article first appeared in ELLE Decoration April 2021

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